By: Professor C. Donaji Mendez Tello,* Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero (UAGro), Tourism Faculty, Zihuatanejo
No more Mexico without Afromexicans! Samantha Leyva, a 23 year-old nurse with roots from “Black Mexico” in the Costa Chica region, recently won the title of Miss Guerrero 2016. “I am proud of my Afromexican heritage!” she says.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Samantha after winning the competition. She is a graduate of my alma mater Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero (UAGro). I found her charm and charisma contagious. But, most importantly, she has a message to deliver!
Brains and Beauty
Samantha Leyva was born in Acapulco, Guerrero. Her mother is originally from the community of Agua Zarca in the Costa Chica region where there is a high concentration of Afromexicans. Her father is from Zihuatanejo. She has two older brothers.
“My family worked hard and pushed us to have academic backgrounds,” she said. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing degree from the School of Nursing at Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero. She is also an athlete, specializing in 200 and 400 meter races. And, she likes to dance!
She is an Activist for Social Change
But, this new title means more to Samantha than just beauty and charm. Being Miss Guerrero gives her a platform on which to be a voice for social change.
“Contestants in the beauty contest must also submit a proposal for a social program. I am proud of my Afromexican roots, and I feel that I have a responsibility to my community. So, I proposed a social project with the City of Cuajinicuilapa, the cradle of the Afromexican community in Guerrero. The project involves health education for the children in the community.
Afromexicans are not currently recognized constitutionally as an ethnic group like other native indigenous groups that are identified by language, and therefore, do not qualify for many educational, social, and economic development programs. 1
“When I work in the community I hear stories about discrimination regarding public health programs, education, and food,” she says. “Every child in Guerrero has the right to enjoy their childhood, to do what they want to do, to be happy, to have an education, to be in good health, and to live with their families in an environment full of love.”
See this video that Miss Guerrero has made to educate the public. While you may not understand the Spanish, you will see the conditions of the people and the work that Samantha Levya is undertaking.
Samantha Levya, Guerrero’s Afromexican beauty is a wonderful representative of the cultural diversity of our state and serves as an example of social responsibly for us and for our children.
Pathways to Freedom Website: In 20111, the “Pathways to Freedom” research project about the people and culture of Afromexicans in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero was developed under a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield, Michigan, USA. For teaching materials, photos, and other information, go to: http://www.freedompathways.org
For more information about Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and the surrounding areas, see: